Baker School Board dismisses school custodian

The Baker School Board voted Tuesday night to fire school custodian Terrell Prentiss for undisclosed reasons.

Board member Elaine Davis made the initial motion to approve Superintendent Ulysses Joseph’s recommendation to terminate the employment of custodians Dolen Dunn, of Park Ridge Elementary Magnet School; and Prentiss, of Baker Heights Elementary School.

However, before a vote was taken, Dunn spoke out, saying that he was going to hire a lawyer. Prentiss was not present at the meeting.

After conferring with School Board attorney Brandon DeCuir, Dunn agreed to meet with the board privately.

Board President Shona Boxie, Dana Carpenter and Davis voted in favor of meeting behind closed doors. Doris Alexander opposed the measure and Troy Watson abstained.

Boxie told the audience that the board is allowed to go into executive session to discuss the “character and professional competence” of personnel. The decision to meet behind closed doors requires a simple majority vote of the board, she said.

According to state law, a public body must have a two-thirds majority vote to meet in a closed session.

After returning to open session, Carpenter proposed putting both custodians on probation for six months. DeCuir said that the board can vote only on the agenda item, which was to accept or reject the superintendent’s recommendation to fire the custodians.

Following a substitute motion by Watson, the board then voted unanimously to dismiss Prentiss and to continue to employ Dunn.

GRASS CUTTING: The board voted 4-1 to cancel its $59,500 grass-cutting contract with David Mahler of H&O Enterprises when the agreement ends on June 30. Watson, Boxie, Davis and Carpenter voted in favor of dropping the contract. Alexander cast the dissenting vote.

In response to a question from Alexander about any possible cost savings, Joseph said that he plans to hire two people to handle the job, which will involve cutting grass as well as painting and other maintenance in the winter. Since the school district already owns two tractors, the board’s cost will consist of paying salaries and buying gas and oil, he said.